Mayor’s Summary of the June 13, 2024 Town Council Meeting

Hello Montreaters!

The momentum of summer has arrived in Montreat! Church buses dot the parking lots, Montreat sweatshirts are omnipresent, and Clubbies can be heard shrieking in canoes and paddleboats on Lake Susan. Another Montreat summer has descended upon our cove!

We welcomed a handful of residents for tonight’s meeting. My summary follows below, but the official minutes will be in next month’s agenda packet. And remember that you can view tonight’s meeting recording by CLICKING HERE.

Public Forum

  • I welcomed our new Town Legal Counsel, Brandon Freeman, from Allen Stahl + Kilbourne. He or a colleague will join us at all Council Meetings.
  • Mary Standaert had several questions for the Council. Her first question was what progress has been made on the cell tower aesthetics. Commissioner Dasher stated that no progress has been made, but plans are to have the new Town legal counsel aid in  the process of contacting the original developer and holding them to the agreement on tower aesthetics. We will report on progress at a future meeting.

    Mary’s second question had to do with the proposed $15 per month sanitation fee. It was explained that the Sanitation Department costs have increased significantly, and those costs must be recovered. The fee will be used to cover Sanitation Department salaries, improvements to the Convenience Center, and the hauling fees (called Tipping Fees). Mary felt we should raise taxes instead of charging a separate sanitation fee.

Council Meeting

  • After I opened the meeting, I commented that it is so wonderful to come through the gate and be in Montreat. It is one of the best places in the world.
  • Town Manager Savannah Parrish thanked the Community Foundation for their recent gift of $34,000 for Flat Creek Crossing. It is a significant boost to Landcare’s efforts to fully fund the project, and we are extremely grateful for their support.

    She also reminded everyone that beginning next month, the time of the Town Council meetings will change to 6:00pm, with the Forum commencing at 5:30.
  • Public Comments included:
    • Mary Standaert offered appreciation that we send out certified letters to neighbors regarding hearings of the Board of Adjustment. During the second Public Comment period, Mary suggested that since we are generating so much refuse as a town, that we engage in a public information campaign about reducing waste, which is good for the environment and will positively impact the Town budget.
    • Letta Jean Taylor offered congratulations for getting the audit in on time. She also commended Town Finance Officer, Rachel Eddings, for earning the $25,000 scholarship (see last week’s Montreat Minute). She also hopes, and asked us to begin planning, to pave Overbrook and repave Virginia next year since it couldn’t be included in this year’s budget.

  • There was no Old Business

  • Under New Business:
    • The Council held a public hearing on the budget:
      • Letta Jean Taylor offered appreciation to the Public Works Department for their significant work around Montreat and the financial savings they bring. She also thanked the Council for including staff salary increases in the ’24-’25 budget.
      • Mary Standaert restated that she would prefer a tax increase than a $15 per month sanitation fee. She also asked the Council to examine less expensive plans for the Texas Road Bridge and questioned the need for a future project of covering the bridge, which would occur only through private donations.
    • The Council adopted the FY 24-25 budget as presented, the total being $2,232,905, a 10% increase over the current year.
    • The Council adopted the FY 24-25 budget ordinance as presented.
    • The Council approved a budget amendment to the current budget to cover increased costs for the Sanitation Department.
    • The Council approved the loan documents for the Texas Road Bridge project, but asked Savannah Parrish to attempt renegotiation of the rate since we are borrowing less than originally anticipated.
  • Under Commissioner Communications:
  • Commissioner Blake asked that the Council take a closer look at the Fee Schedule, especially related to development fees.
  • Commissioner Fouche again expressed her concern about the Montreat Steward signs and red bows that have been up for nearly four years. The decision is with the Appeals Court not Montreat residents and guests. The Stewards should get the judges to come see the signs, then they can take them down. Otherwise, there is no need for them. They are doing nothing but sending a divisive message within the community.
  • Commissioner Widmer requested that additional dog waste bins be placed at the Texas Road Bridge and by the sidewalk on the dam near Howerton Hall. He also requested a trash can near the Texas Road Bridge.

We appreciate more than you know your participation, encouragement, and interest in the work of our Town.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please write me at [email protected] or call me at 828/669-3852.

Mayor Tim Helms on behalf of the Town Council